To Thine Own Self Be True

To Thine Own Self Be True

As the famous line from William Shakespeare’s Hamlet states, to thine own self be true. This is so important in business. We now live in a world with corporate executives lying, politicians’ lying, government officials lying and our news media lying all in the name of profit and power. Our society has lost its integrity just for that edge to get ahead of the next person. The one person you cannot lie to is yourself. Shakespeare was right with to thine own self be true.

Psychologists state that humans are the one animal in nature that masters deception. But self-deception can be very dangerous for the entrepreneur. When you begin believing your own lies about yourself and your business that is the beginning of the end. I have known more than one person in business that managed a successful team of loyal employees to a very profitable business to see it destroyed, not by ego but by self-deception. We all must give those self-pep talks on a daily basis to be better than we really are. I am talking about living with a pure lie.

Years ago when I was a young manager in corporate America I worked with a manager brought in from another industry. He really didn’t understand our business and seemed to struggle in the field with us because of his lack of experience. But in front of a room of salespeople, no one was better. He could have been a professional actor on a stage. The owner loved this guy, so it became obvious he wasn’t leaving any time soon. The closer we got to our new manager over time the more we realized something was not quite right. What he said and what he did were two totally different things. He began to miss appointments and meetings and blamed us for his confusions. He always had a great story to tell and acted it out with great enthusiasm, but he never admitted responsibility. One day, he did not show up for an early morning but important meeting. One of our delivery guy’s saw his car at a local gentlemen’s establishment from the night before where he was found passed out intoxicated in a booth in our company car. Even though we all knew his issue the two most important people did not, the owner and himself. He was fired on the spot by our owner. I heard later he continued to lie to himself about his problem until his world came crashing down around him. I did hear later he went into rehab and is now successful once he stopped the self-deception.

This story is to illustrate a point. The people closest to you, be it loved ones or team members, know the truth about you. The self-deception only hurts you. People are not dumb when paying attention. People know when someone is lying regardless how loud they tell it or how much they believe it after a period of time. If you want to be successful in business and in life, to thine own self be true.

“To thine own self be true, and it must follow, as the night the day, thou canst not then be false to any man.”—William Shakespeare

Image courtesy of Stuart Miles at www.freedigitalphotos.net


Tim Wilhoit is owner/principal of Your Friend 4 Life Insurance Agency in Nashville, TN. He is a family man, father of 3, entrepreneur, insurance agent, life insurance broker, salesman, sales trainer, recruiter, public speaker, blogger and team leader with over 27 years of experience in sales and marketing in the insurance and beverage industries.

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